Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Ja­clyn Ter­signi mat­teo­bri­

Mat­teo Brioni’s Terra frame clay work is de­cid­edly half-baked

You could call Mat­teo Brioni’s lat­est floor­ing sur­face half-baked and he likely wouldn’t mind a bit. Through the Lom­bardy stu­dio he founded eight years ago, Brioni has been of­fer­ing ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers an al­ter­na­tive to con­ven­tional tiling with his cus­tom “raw earth” sur­faces. His lat­est col­lec­tion, Ter­raframe, aug­ments his usual soil bases with baked dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments to cre­ate a uniquely dual-toned and -textured ma­te­rial. The theme is “di­chotomy,” says Brioni, whose in­spi­ra­tion was opus sign­inum floor­ing, made in an­cient Rome by mix­ing small tile frag­ments with mor­tar. Born into a fam­ily that has owned a brick maker’s fur­nace in Gon­zaga, about 140 kilo­me­tres south­east of Mi­lan, for four gen­er­a­tions, he came by his in­flu­ences nat­u­rally. Mar­i­alaura Rossiello Irvine of Stu­dio Irvine, a de­sign firm in Mi­lan, is Brioni’s art direc­tor. To­gether, they se­lect clays and nat­u­ral ag­gre­gates from var­i­ous re­gions, then blend them to achieve the chro­matic and func­tional spec­i­fi­ca­tions best suited to each project. When the de­sired form and colour are achieved, the raw earth blend is air-dried, not fired. The re­sult­ing ma­te­rial emits no toxic fumes, ab­sorbs sound and helps to reg­u­late room tem­per­a­tures. Since 2010, the stu­dio’s sur­faces have ap­peared in a wide range of projects, in­clud­ing re­tail stores in Rome and Am­s­ter­dam, a restau­rant in Venice and the Dada show­room in Mi­lan. In 2014, Brioni’s take on an adobe brick wall, de­vel­oped for Kéré Ar­chi­tec­ture, was fea­tured at the Venice Bi­en­nale. For the Ter­raframe line, dis­tin­guished by its con­trast­ing el­e­ments, Brioni has cho­sen to go more graphic than rough-hewn. In this case, the ter­ra­cotta is glued to the clay and air-dried; the en­tire sur­face is then sanded and treated with lin­seed oil and nat­u­ral wax. The di­choto­mous re­sult blends the tra­di­tional with the mod­ern, the raw with the cooked. It’s a unique line from a stu­dio al­ready known for its unique­ness.

The new­est fin­ish in Mat­teo Brioni’s Ter­raframe col­lec­tion, Frag­ment, is made from raw clay (above) and topped with var­i­ous ter­ra­cotta de­tails (left and bot­tom left). He de­vel­oped the line with Mar­i­alaura Rossiello Irvine.

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